English Dub Review: Mr. Tonegawa: Middle Management Blues “Unofficial Announcement”

Blessings, Curses, and everything in between.

Overview

It’s October at Teiai, and that means that personnel reshuffling is only a month away. Yamazaki and Simon discuss this on their way into work on the first day of autumn. While the black suit transfers are supposed to be kept a secret, it is almost inevitable that the news of promotions and demotions makes its way through the ranks at the mega-corporation.

Midway through the month, Yamazaki is cornered by another member of Team Tonegawa, and he is brought to a bar where three underachievers gather to complain about the inefficiencies of Teiai. Yamazaki knows that these are the exact members of Team Tonegawa that will be transferred, but there’s no way that he can tell them this early in October without dishonoring everyone involved. Yamazaki holds his tongue and prays that HR makes their transfer notifications as soon as possible.

For the rest of the month, these three underachievers labor under the assumption that they will keep their jobs, much to Yamazaki’s chagrin, but on Halloween, the news finally drops. The entirety of Team Tonegawa, minus the eponymous leader, gathers at another bar for a going away party for the three exiting black suits. Everyone gets too drunk, and fights start to break out. It looks as if Team Tonegawa is going to destroy the place when Mr. Tonegawa himself arrives on the scene.

The three demoted black suits rail against Mr. Tonegawa for refusing to tell them the hard truth about their position. Tonegawa sighs and tells them that, yes, they are being sent away for their incompetence, but they can earn their place back at Teiai’s main office with enough hard work. When the trio refuses to believe a “soft” man like Mr. Tonegawa, he removes his shirt, showing sea snake scars from his own time at the remote Teiai outpost. Now, with renewed vigor, the trio do everything they can to follow in Mr. Tonegawa’s footsteps.

Our Take

Anniversaries are an interesting thing. In marking the passage of time, one can’t help but look back on the time that has already gone by. While I haven’t been reviewing Mr. Tonegawa for an entire year, I have been doing it for some time, and upon considering all of the episodes I’ve seen this season, “Unofficial Announcement” cracks my top three.

This episode has some shades of earlier in the season when Tonegawa was forced to fire a black suit for incompetence, but instead, these black suits are not beyond hope. While Ebitani seemed not to be cut out for the business world, the three black suits in this week’s episode think they know the business better than Tonegawa himself. “Unofficial Announcement” also takes great advantage of its placement in the season. While the self-contained adventure could exist anywhere during the twenty-four episode run, it’s juxtaposition with last week’s “Natural Enemy” provides some color to how Tonegawa rose through the ranks at Teiai and makes the reveal all the more meaningful this week.

This episode began with Simon and Yamazaki, two members of Team Tonegawa we knew were staying put, and they were a great excuse to get the episode talking about the transfers. Much like the interview episode earlier in the season, this episode uses annual tradition to fill out the world of Mr. Tonegawa and Teiai while providing a very natural conflict and shape for the episode to take.

The weakest links of the episode are our demoted black suits. They were pulled from the faceless mass of Team Tonegawa, and while they had been previously named, none of them had any distinct characteristics worth remembering. Unfortunately, that persisted into this week’s outing. None of the three were in any way distinct from each other, apart from appearance, and it did little to make me feel much of anything for any of them.

Luckily, this episode wasn’t really about any of them. In some of the deftest worldbuilding I’ve seen from Mr. Tonegawa, they’ve managed to very smoothly clear three spots on Yukio’s team, for named characters to be introduced. While I think they probably should have taken advantage of these character spots at the top of the season, their pivot is still commendable. We know, based on the previews for the next two episodes, at least one of these characters will be a woman. I mentioned some time ago that women have been kept out of the world of business up to this point, and I’m interested in Tonegawa’s take on women in the workforce.

In a similar move, they introduced Doshita, a hitherto unnamed member of the team who is described as a jock, and in next week’s episode, he will be helping Tonegawa get into better shape. It’s a move that I think will ultimately have less resonance on a week-to-week basis, but between the food challenges and having to eat all of the sparrow soup last week, we are looking at Tonegawa’s health in greater detail.

The moment “Unofficial Announcement” jumped from good to great, for me, was Mr. Tonegawa’s appearance in the last moments of the episode. Up until then, he had only been in two other scenes, and I had settled in for a black suit-only episode. His emotional reveal at the end, once again shows that even in punishing his subordinates, he still teaches them a valuable lesson. He continues to be a much better leader and surrogate father to his men than President Hyōdō is to him.

This isn’t a flashy episode. This is really just taking the best parts of what we’ve seen from Mr. Tonegawa so far, and putting it all together. I’ve referenced quite a few other episodes in this week’s review because it does feel like the show is capable of learning what works and what doesn’t from its previous tries. I only wish the show would be half this consistent week-to-week. Much like its starring trio this week, with hard work, Mr. Tonegawa really does have the potential to do great things.

Score
8/10

Zach

Cartoon Philosopher

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